2 charged for failing to report sex abuse claim

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Two St. Paul School District employees face a misdemeanor charge for failing to report alleged sexual abuse of a child.

Beth Behnke, 48, of Burnsville, and Craig Guidry, 52, of Arden Hills, were charged on Monday in Dakota County. Prosecutors said that Behnke and Guidry failed to report under Minnesota's mandated reporting law the alleged conduct of Walter Happel, of Newport.

The conduct was related to an incident that occurred in January 2012 and was later labeled "sexual abuse" in a March 19 report filed by a social worker with the St. Paul School District.

Happel, a former St. Paul school custodian is accused of looking under a bathroom stall at an 11-year-old boy. He faces a total of eight charges for sexually abusing children and inappropriate behavior after new victims came forward.

Dakota County Attorney Jame Backstrom said in a statement that, "mandatedreporters are required to file reports within 24 hours of their directobservations or indirect information they receive related to the neglector sexual abuse of a child. Theresponsibility to make such a report to the appropriate law enforcement agencyor social services agency is not excused by the belief a mandated reporter mayhave that such a report will be filed by someone else in the organization'shierarchy."

Backstrom said that the mandated reporting law is important to protecting the health and safety of children and needs to be followed."


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